Ivanka feared for her life when her foster parents discovered her secret. What would become of her now? Would she have to go back to where she came from and go through hell again?
She trusted that she would be able to conceal the truth and start anew somewhere else. But her past and her true story ended up catching up with her.
It is no secret that war tears up lives, homes, hopes, dreams, and families. When two governments are confronted against each other, the common folks suffer the consequences.
Not only that: often, it’s not only governments that are confronted against each other, but also the ordinary people that are ruled by them. And some have to conceal their true identity out of fear of retaliation and prejudice. This is one of those stories.
On paper, the Barnetts seemed like the perfect couple. They were high school sweethearts, they had married right after college, and they were well-liked members of their local community in Ybor City, Florida, where they had been living since they graduated.
But there was something about the Barnetts that not many people knew. And it was something that had been tormenting them for years now.
Ever since they got married, they had been trying to have kids. It was one of their main goals as a couple, and both had been on the same page about it since they started dating.
But there seemed to be a problem. After trying for years, they hadn’t managed to get any closer to their goal of becoming parents. They didn’t know what was wrong, and they were close to giving up. What was the problem?
After several medical tests, they found out what the issue was: John, the husband, was sterile. He was unable to have kids.
The news was devastating for the Barnetts. But they still had one option. It seemed like adoption was the natural solution to their problems. Quickly, they started doing research on their possibilities.
The couple shared a strong compromise for social causes. And recently, the news about the war in Ukraine had been breaking their hearts. It all seemed so unreal. They found it unbelievable that in this day and age, people in Europe were being forced to leave their country and their lives by disputes between governments.
They solidarized with the Ukrainian people. And they decided that the best they could do was to adopt one of the kids that had suffered the effects of the war.
They contacted one of the local adoption agencies and asked about Ukrainian kids. And there were quite a few of them who either had lost their parents in the war or had been sent to America temporarily.
One of the orphans called their attention. It was Ivanka, a 7-year-old girl with a special shine in her eyes and an aura of sadness around her. And when they heard her story, they were even more moved.
Ivanka’s parents were innocent civilians from Donbas, an area in Ukraine with a strong Russian presence. They both had been murdered during the war, presumably by Russian soldiers. She had been found by the Red Cross in a torn apart house and then brought to America.
The Barnetts didn’t think twice. They were moved by Ivanka’s story and decided to take her home with them. But they were in for a surprise.
Ivanka wasn’t the only Ukrainian adopted kid in the area. Her English was a little bit deficient, and it would take her some time to reach enough fluency to be fully integrated. So in the meantime, it was encouraged by the adoption agency that she would socialize with other Ukrainian kids.
So the Barnetts took Ivanka to a local care center where other Ukrainian children played and socialized. And what happened then was absolutely confusing to them.
Ivanka seemed to have problems with the rest of the Ukrainian kids. They didn’t like her. They picked on her, excluded her from their conversations, and even bullied her! But what could be the reason?
They talked to one of the employees of the care center. And what he told them was baffling: Ivanka wasn’t Ukrainian. She was Russian. The other kids had picked up on her accent and discriminated against her for her nationality.
But how could that be possible? The adoption agency had told the Barnetts that Ivanka was Ukrainian! Maybe they had failed to verify her origin? Maybe they were lying?
Immediately, the Barnetts contacted the adoption agency. Soon, an investigation on Ivanka’s background and her story was conducted, and the results were surprising.
Ivanka had lied to the Red Cross about her story! Her parents weren’t Ukrainian: they were Russian! They did actually live in Donbas, and they had been killed in the war. But they were a part of the Russian population. They had probably died in one of the attacks from the Ukrainian army.
But why did Ivanka lie about that? Why did she conceal her story? When she was questioned about it, the truth came out.
Considering the West’s alignment with the Ukrainian government, Ivanka feared that not as many families would want to adopt her if they knew that she was Russian. She thought Western foster families would be more inclined to feel compassion for her if they thought she was Ukrainian.
She had been advised to lie about her nationality by other Russians living in Donbas who couldn’t take care of her. And she had lied about her parents’ nationality and story in hopes of getting compassionate treatment.
When they heard this story, the Barnetts were puzzled. So they had been sold a lie during the adoption process? That was some outrageous negligence on the part of the Red Cross and the adoption agency.
They thought that when it came to the conflict, they sympathized with the Ukrainian government. But did that really matter when the life of a 7-year-old orphan was involved?
They decided that it didn’t really matter. Ivanka was an orphan who had lost her parents in a war that she didn’t understand. Nothing of what happened was her fault.
She was now their daughter, and they would take care of her and make sure that she had a happy life, away from a war that she didn’t have anything to do with.